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The Untold Story Behind UPL Clubs, FUFA Standoff

League action between Mbarara City FC and KCCA FC. Monitor photo

The Uganda Premier League clubs met privately this week and agreed to meet with Madam Janat Museveni, the Minister of Education and Sports.

The clubs, not any of the VEK teams, Police and URA FC, are expected to reveal all their discontents to the Minister about how they are poorly treated by Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA).

Consequently, FUFA has on Thursday brought forward a meeting with all UPL clubs, that was supposed to be held in July.

Here are some of the reasons for the standoff between the UPL teams and FUFA;

1. FUFA insisting on reducing Uganda Premier League Clubs from 16 to 12
Early this year 2020, FUFA proposed to have clubs in the Uganda Premier League (UPL) Secretariat reduced from 16 to 12 after next season of 2020/21. This was of course rushed as such reforms need at least 5 years to be implemented. Countries like Scotland that FUFA was copying from are not models when it comes to the League Management. Clubs, fans and pundits opposed this fully but confidential information shows FUFA will go ahead and implement this proposal. So, by this time next year, we will be having 12 clubs in the Uganda Premier League.

To implement this, 6 clubs will be relegated at the end of next season and this is enough for clubs to fear.

Since 2015, of all the clubs that have graced the Uganda Premier League, only three clubs, KCCA, Vipers and Onduparaka have not been involved in relegation battles in any season. So, consistency in Uganda Premier League is not an easy feat.

Thus relegating 6 clubs next season automatically puts many clubs at tenterhooks!

With the current squads and Ugandan Football Politics at play, only Vipers, KCCA, URA, Villa and Express can be sure of surviving relegation next season.

This implies that the other 11 clubs will have to fight for the remaining 5 slots as the other 2 slots have to be given to promoted teams from the Big League.

Mbarara City, Onduparaka, Busoga United, Bul, Kyetume, Wakiso Giants, Police and Bright Stars have all been tossed right, left and center by FUFA in as far as having home grounds/stadia/stadiums are concerned.

All these clubs can attribute their success to their home grounds. A case in point is Mbarara City that has lost only 3 league games out of the 43 it has hosted at its home ground of Kakyeka Stadium, Mbarara since joining the Uganda Premier League. Onduparaka’s stardom at Greenlight Stadium, Arua, Busoga United and Bul’s invincibility in Jinja, Kyetume’s progress at Nakisunga as it got promoted and Bright Stars’ giant killing style at Mwererwe need no introduction.

So, if FUFA plays its politics like it normally does and have some of these clubs host games away from their familiar home grounds, how many of these clubs will survive relegation????? Its not a surprise that all these 8 clubs with exception of Police, all signed the petition!!!!

For Police, its understandable, coz cancelling the league was in their favour as they survived relegation by just a point (albeit with 5 games to go). For Starters, Police only got out of the relegation zone (call it bottom three places) after the final game of Match Day 25 and thats how it survived. They were very lucky in deed.

2. Cash Bonanza
It should be clearly noted that Reducing clubs to 12 is the main grievance amongst clubs. The rest are just additions but are serving as rallying calls.

FUFA was allocated 10 billion shs by Government to promote football in the country. Other Federations were given meagre resources that can’t even run a Football club like Vipers!!!

FUFA used the fans’ presence at Uganda Cranes Matches at Namboole and league games for most supported clubs like Onduparaka, Villa, KCCA, Vipers, Mbarara City, Tooro United to have a justification that Football is widely supported in Uganda and thus FUFA ought to be given all this huge package unlike other federations that have no crowds. Cases of empty stadiums at games for Police, Maroons, URA were shelved by FUFA.

After money came in, FUFA deemed the clubs they used to get the money unfit to receive the package. This couldn’t raise drama since the Uganda Cranes (the main protagonist in the justification) were being well facilitated and triumphing at Afcon and CECAFA. But alas! Ticket prices for Uganda Cranes remained high still and several coaches in the Uganda Cranes set ups were never put on monthly pay roll… Referees and assessors had to maneuver through months and months without a single coin from FUFA yet they have families to feed and kids to educate!!!

For starters, this money (10 billion shs) is given out in instalments, every Quarter (every 3 months). With this last quarter of April, May and June where Chan (for Uganda Cranes players selected from the local leagues) was postponed and no football was played in the country, FUFA has those hundreds of millions of money stuck on its accounts and this is the bottom line of why clubs insist that FUFA should have bailed them out. Remember, clubs have to keep paying salaries to players even during this period when no football is being played.
FUFA only reached out to clubs through donating rice to players and with the market price in Uganda, this was not more than 60 million shs (not even 1% of the donation from Government). Add also donations from FIFA as well
It would have been prudent for FUFA to financially reach out to these clubs

3. Canceling the League
Of course the law calls for the Uganda Premier League to end in any case there is a hazard and league positions to be awarded if at least one club has played more than 75% of the games (23 league games in the Uganda Premier League). All clubs had played 25 league games (83%) and hence there wouldn’t be cause for alarm but how FUFA rushed to cancel the league after clubs inquired about money from Government and FIFA is the main bone of contention

How FUFA rushed to crown KCCA FC the representative in the Confederations Cup also raises eyebrows!!! This slot was to be given to the winner of the Uganda Cup, which wasn’t concluded but if we were to play the gymnastics, URA that had won 8-2 against Nyamityobora in the last qualifying round would have been earmarked as the winner of the Uganda Cup!!!

But FUFA decided to communicate that the Uganda Cup (which needs at least 40 days to be concluded) can be played when the lock down is over but the Uganda Premier League (which needed 17 days for the 5 match days to be completed) wouldn’t be held!!!! #This was a mistake!!!

No one of course can doubt KCCA’s prowess to win the Uganda Cup but may be FUFA feared that KCCA would add their voices to the petition which would haven’t been easy to deal with.

Other clubs were affected by FUFA’s decision to cancel the league;

Mbarara City, lost out a Pilsner Super 8 Cup Appearance on Goal difference as it had 36 points, same as Bul (6th) but an inferior goal difference. They are set to lose some good money via Sponsorship for failure to qualify for Super 8.

Maroons FC which slipped into the relegation zone for the first time after match day 25 was relegated as it got stuck on 24 points after losing to Express (1-0) and Police won 2-1 against URA at Ndejje to move to 25 points
#Who knows how it would have ended with Ayiekoh managing the last 5 games!!!
Was FUFA fearing Proline under arch rival Mujib Kasule (with 22 points, just three behind Police) to survive if the league resumed?

Its not a surprise that some of the petitioning clubs want the league to resume not because they are not safe but because they have sympathy for Mujib whose Proline has gone down.

4. Petitions from the Big League Teams
FUFA got it wrong while cancelling the Big League season that had just 5 match days (13 days) to end but when does FUFA Admit mistakes?
The law says at least one club should have played more than 75% (13 games). Nyamityobora (in the Rwenzori Group) had played 12 games (75%). There is a difference between at least 75% AND More than 75%
Instead of giving out slots based on 1st round table/standings, let FUFA allow the Big League games to resume when Football is allowed to resume and we have a fair ground.
These petitions alarmed the UPL Clubs to fight on.

5. Internal fightings at FUFA
We are nearing the next FUFA Polls. Of course, Eng. Moses Magogo will seek re – election as FUFA President. For starters, Eng. Magogo is running for MP in Budiope East in Buyende District and even if he wins as MP, he can still be the FUFA President, after all, there are several MPs that are into Football. But, some people are looking at this as an avenue for him to leave. Even during his saga for World Cup Tickets, several people were clamoring to take over had he failed to bounce back

It remains to be seen why Rodgers Byamukama was removed as a Chairperson for the influential FUFA Licensing Committee and replaced by Rodgers Mulindwa. Could it be that Byamukama is eyeing the FUFA Presidency!!!
Its early to tell but it was not all rosy as Byamukama was being pushed out of that Licensing Committee Office. Only time will tell us Why!!!
Who knows if these factions are feeding clubs with information?
Who knows if these factions are not encouraging this standoff?

6. FUFA imposing a representative on UPL Clubs
Around 2017, State Minister for Youth Hon Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi (then a Club Chairperson at Express) was elected as the representative of the Uganda Premier League Clubs to FUFA and this position guarantees her a position of being a 3rd Vice President.

Nakiwala defeated Diana Hope Nyago (of Busoga United) with 10 votes to 6. Mbarara City, Sports Club Villa (represented by Ben Misagga) and Vipers are some of the clubs that stood with Nyago while Police and Tooro United are some of those that stood with Nakiwala.

Magogo was involved in that election as he interfaced with delegates, one by one, from his office, telling them all and sundry, how the coming of a Minister will improve relations between FUFA and Government and how Clubs would be the beneficiaries of this.

That also alienated him from some of these club chairmen, from that day. Why would a FUFA President poke his noses into a simple election of clubs choosing their representative? Why would a FUFA President want to give guidance on everything?

As we say that Time is always the best judge, Nakiwala later lost her position at Express and thus is ineligible to represent the clubs. Its like being a Speaker of Parliament without being an MP. FUFA has of course protected her and delegates conferences haven’t deliberated on this but clubs are yet to benefit from the promises made as Nakiwala was being elected.

So, from the start of this term, the Uganda Premier League clubs started on a bad note after FUFA intervened in their election and since their representative Nakiwala isn’t a comrade (a fellow Club President), these Club Presidents have no ally to take their grievances to FUFA. This is the basis as to why the battle has moved to the Ministry of Sports since even the UPL Board has not imposed itself.

7. The StarTimes Sponsorship Deal
FUFA through Eng. Moses Magogo and Ben Misagga (then at Villa) brokered this deal but clubs were never consulted.
Sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures. The Azam deal had got done in May 2018 and the League badly wanted a Sponsor.

With FUFA desperate, the Chinese caught them off guard.
The deal for Star Times was for 10 years not 2 years like Azam

No Club was allowed to have a TV Sponsor yet during the time when Azam was the Sponsor, clubs like KCCA and Sports Club Villa were being sponsored by Star Times. Onduparaka’s financial woes started from here as they were set to sign a deal with Azam TV as their sponsor after parting ways with Bet Way but because FUFA signed the deal without involving clubs, Onduparaka was on the receiving end #Its not a surprise that Onduparaka even signed the Star Times deal after 8 league games. You can fault FUFA, partly for the financial troubles at Onduparaka and no wonder, Onduparaka and FUFA seem to be on parallel roads these days.

The people who brokered the deal were supposed to get more money than the clubs!!!!! #How ironical!!!!
FUFA used this avenue to convince clubs to sign the deal so as not to let Ben Misagga and accomplices get the money for brokering the deal

As fate would have it, clubs ended up receiving same money from Star Times, like they were getting through the Azam deal (between 18 million shs & 19 million shs per quarter, depending on the dollar exchange rate) which implies that there was no progress.

Azam money used to come in time but clubs struggle to get money from Star Times in time.

For Fans, Azam had a better picture Quality resolution and match day splendor

However, on a good note, Star Times moves everywhere, even if its Arua (600 kilometers from Kampala) or Mbarara (265 kilometers from Kampala) but Azam only concentrated on Kampala clubs, most of them with empty stadiums.

Star Times has also marketed the league better than Azam. Many radio stations and TV stations run commercial adverts on the Star Times Uganda Premier League and give the league a lot of attention unlike during Azam days.

But because Star Times brokered the deal from the windows, their aroma in the sitting room (clubs) is yet to be felt. No wonder, several clubs chased away Star Times when they wanted to brand stadium walls with their logos.

8. Disappointed by The FUFA Licensing Committe
This was the biggest disappointment of the season. Instead of advising clubs on how best to meet the requirements, they just sat in Mengo and waited to issue out letters. They delayed to re – inspect stadiums. Many players started the season without licenses. Clubs could not raise 18 players for match day Squads.

This committee some times makes outrageous decisions. In the 2018/19, Mbarara City was cleared to return to Kakyeka but Nyamityobora (of Ben Misagga, a rival to Magogo) had to host games from Kampala for over 40 days yet Nyamityobora and Mbarara City were using the same home ground.

Tooro United was cleared to host games from St. Paul’s Seminary, with no standard dressing rooms but Onduparaka was not allowed to host from Greenlight Stadium, Arua for lack of great places of convenience (dressing rooms and toilets).

Kyetume finished the season like Nomadic Pastoralists, looking for home grounds.

Wankulukuku (Express), Luzira (Maroons) and Bombo (UPDF) kept hosting games initially but weren’t meeting all FUFA requirements. For starters, Bombo doesn’t have anything like separation of fans but Busoga United at one point was denied chance to host games at The Mighty Arena because they couldn’t separate Fans.

All these accost club owners. These grievances keep piling up

9. The Final Drama
FUFA kept turning a deaf ear to clubs but after Clubs petitioned the office of the Minister for Education and Sports, FUFA hastily called for a meeting with clubs, mbu, to discuss Licensing requirements!!!

We are in a lock down. If FUFA could not call clubs for a meeting before canceling the league or after receiving money, Why is FUFA rushing now?
Its clear that FUFA wants to meet clubs before the latter can meet the Minister for Education and Sports.

Clubs are registered as Companies and Companies are always represented by CEO’s. Why dump CEO’s and look for Club Owners yet Club Licensing is done by CEO’s?

As Ugandan Football Fans, let’s pray for Sanity to prevail. When Clubs and FUFA fight or play politics, its us the fans that suffer

Osborn Mushabe
The Hand You Can Trust

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